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Abstract

This article examines two first grade classrooms in Central Texas that routinely have conversations about racial justice. In both classrooms we studied, children participated in racial conversations in large group structured discussions with the teacher and in less formal peer conversations away from the teachers. We follow both classrooms and detail the ways in which the teachers supported conversations about race, racism and racial violence with and among the young children in their classes. We highlight specific strategies and mechanisms that both teachers used to open up their classrooms for social and racial justice conversations. Then, we show how even in highly skilled teachers’ classrooms, whiteness can invade children’s conversations about race, racism, and racial violence, particularly when the teacher is not present. Given these findings, we offer a set of implications for early childhood teachers who understand the importance of young children talking about race and racism but who want to deprivilege whiteness in those discussions.

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